Women’s history has flourished since the mid-twentieth century, yet women continue to be under represented in historical research and publications.

The Civic and Community collections at Explore York Archives contain unique sources that help to reveal the hidden histories of York’s women. This guide is by no means exhaustive, but is intended to provide an overview of collections and resources that could be used as a starting point for researching women’s lives.

Key Collections

Below are some of the collections we hold that relate specifically to individual women, or women’s experience. We are taking in new collections all the time, so please check our catalogue for recent additions.

AWG York Association of Women Graduates, 1989-2012
CRI Edna Crichton, Lord Mayor of York, 1941-1960s
CYG York Association for the Care of Young Girls and York Training Home for Girls, 1880-1960s
DYS Lillie Dyson Letters, 1890s
LEM Iris Lemare papers, 1902-1997
MHD Diaries and Letters of Mary Hughes, 1910-1950
MPP Autobiography and papers of Millicent Price, 1935
PEN York Penitentiary Society, 1822-1953
SCW York Standing Conference of Women’s Organisations, 1943-2000
STU Vivian Stuart papers, 1968-1986
WWI Women’s Institute, Wheldrake Branch, 1925-2020
YFF York Female Friendly Society, 1786-1986

Civic Collections

Evidence of women’s lives, activities, and even their voices can be found throughout our collections of Civic archives. These sources detail women’s experiences of health, housing, welfare and education, and document their contribution to the civic life of the city.

PLU Poor Law Collection
Our Poor Law archive offers opportunities for researching women’s experience of poverty and welfare. This collection could also be used for
evidence of women’s roles within the pre-1948 welfare system.

Y York Civic Archive Our main series of Civic records constitutes nearly half of our holdings, so the opportunities here are endless! Records that could be mined for women’s stories include:

Records of staff

Civil Defence records

Committee minutes

Education and school records

Records relating to crime, punishment, health and housing

Community collections

Our community collections comprise records of individuals as well as local
community groups and organisations, such as: sporting clubs, theatre groups,
musical societies, trades unions, political organisations, and businesses. These records offer scope for studying women’s involvement in a variety of professional and recreational arenas.

The records above are a rich resource for studying women’s history in York.
However, we are always looking to expand our collections, to provide a more
representative account of York’s citizens, past and present. If you are aware of
any organisations or individuals who hold archives relating to women’s history
please contact us. We recognise though that some archive collections are best kept in local communities, as they support a sense of place and community identity. If you are looking for advice on how to create your own archive, or how to preserve what you currently have, please have a look at our advice for community groups or get in touch. We’ll be happy to support in any way we can. .